Breaking Patriarchy Through Words, Imagination, and Faith:

The Hayloft as Spielraum in Miriam Toews' Women Talking


  • Margaret Steffler Trent University


Published during the #MeToo movement, Miriam Toews’ 2019 novel Women Talking focuses on the importance of listening attentively to women’s words. I argue that the novel’s hayloft functions as a contact zone and more specifically as what Magdalene Redekop in Making Believe: Questions about Mennonites and Art (2020) terms a Spielraum, a dialogical space in which interchanges between genders, generations, time periods, and continents play out, not in forceful movements reaching resolution and closure, but with an acknowledgement of the persistence of differences between many forms of “us and them.” I concentrate on spatial and temporal intersections of language, from the words of Wordsworth to those of Irigaray, arguing that the “wild female imagination,” accused of fabricating stories of rape, works instead in the world of “us and them” to reimagine future spaces as places of conversation initiating movement and change.